Don’t wear gloves when you handle old books. From the British Library:

Whenever a manuscript is featured in the press or on television, we inevitably receive adverse comments about our failure to wear white gloves! The association of glove-wearing with handling old books is in fact a modern phenomenon, and one that has little scientific basis.

Essentially, we recommend that it is preferable to handle manuscripts with clean dry hands.

We were told the same thing when I studied book design at Reading. Gloves tend to cause more damage than they prevent. It’s one of those things that looks nice in photos.

Holographic messaging

Infographic with Leia describing holographic messaging

Continuing with the life imitating science fiction trend, hologram messaging is close to becoming reality. If you happen to have a Nature subscription, you can probably read more about it.

A University of Arizona team says it has devised a system that can make a holographic display appear in another place and update it in near real-time.

In other news, Princess Leia illustration used as infographic for serious article about scientific research.

Shakespeare in original pronunciation

Paul Meier, a theatre professor at the University of Kansas, has been researching the original pronunciation of Shakespeare, enabling audiences to hear what the plays would have sounded like in the Bard’s time.

“The audience will hear rough and surprisingly vernacular diction, they will hear echoes of Irish, New England and Cockney that survive to this day as ‘dialect fossils.’ And they will be delighted by how very understandable the language is, despite the intervening centuries.”

The clip above features an interview with Meier, and some examples from an OP production at the university. For a longer scene, check out this video for a longer scene.

Robot arm picks up anything

A team of researchers from Cornell, University of Chicago and iRobot, have created a robot gripper that can pick up almost any small object. It uses the jamming of particulate material inside an elastic bag to hold on to things, as opposed to traditional designs modelled around the human hand.

The gripper consists of a rubber membrane around a granular material that can form around objects, then grab them when a vacuum pump is used to harden the material. The gripper was designed to allow robots to pick up various objects without a lot of computational overhead.